Two years ago, director Michael Mayer began working on Head Over Heels, a musical juxtaposing a “Shakespearean-type romance” storyline with the punky pop songs of groundbreaking girl group The Go-Go’s. But it wasn't until recently that he realized what made it truly radical.
"It really is a feminist story," says Mayer, who also directed Green Day’s American Idiot and Spring Awakening. "It’s about how to transcend the patriarchy as it has been handed down to us and as we’ve blindly accepted it. And there’s something about these songs by this group of amazing women, letting that be the voice of the story -- it feels germane and of the moment."
Broadway musical creators have long turned to iconic artists’ catalogs and life stories as raw material, but from The Who to The Four Seasons, those artists have more often than not been male. Finally, that trend looks set to change in a big way. In the wake of the well-reviewed Carole King and Gloria Estefan bio-musicals Beautiful and On Your Feet!, respectively, in addition to the hits Waitress and Kinky Boots (with original songs by Sara Bareilles and Cyndi Lauper, respectively), the coming year will bring a slew of new shows driven by the stories and songs of female artists to Broadway, the West End and beyond.